Katharina Katt’s A Female Vampire, published originally in August 2002, is a novella about, well, a female vampire. I am, it’s no secret, rather fond of female vampires, especially if they’re the protagonists and not reviled as evil or amoral, and not relegated to a secondary role in a love affair with an alpha male with godlike sex appeal. If male vampires can be heroic leads, why can’t female vampires also be heroic leads? Anyway, go read my post The Female Vampire for in-depth discussion of this.
This particular bisexy female vampire has long, dark hair, drinks wine, may well not be wearing any undies, enjoys sex and drinks blood the way God intended. Very much my kind of vampire lass. If you’ve read Suzie and the Monsters, the similarities between my Suzie and Katharina Katt’s Melody are quite clear. In fact, it was reading A Female Vampire that inspired me to write Suzie and the Monsters, so I have a soft spot in my heart for this book.
But it was as much frustration with A Female Vampire as enjoyment of it that inspired me. One problem is the writing – not so much the grammar, which is fine for the most part, but rather the repetitive starting of sentences with ‘She’. For example, on one double-page screen I count 25 new sentences of which 14 begin with ‘She’, 6 begin with ‘He’, one starts with ‘Her’, and the last four are all dialogue. (Another example: On another page there are seven sentences starting with ‘Lisa’.) Lane Diamond complains about I-Bombs, and this is the ‘She-Bomb’ equivalent… It’s readable, but can be quite distracting.
Another thing I find frustrating is the lack of detail. Melody seems only to exist, not to live. She likes blood and sex, but who is she as a person? What makes her laugh? What reduces her to tears? Is she capable of love? Is she ever driven by a vengeful fury to kill for reasons that have nothing to do with blood? Why should we care about her? Is there any meaning to her life? Should we feel anything for her victims?
The story is also deliberately vague about her past: Who was she before, when human? How did she become what she is? How old is she, and what has she lived through? I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: vampire stories provide an almost unique opportunity to blend past and present, and to explore facets of essential humanity that rarely see the light, so it’s always a shame when they don’t use it.
A Female Vampire is an erotic novella, and there’s plenty of sex, and quite imaginative too. Including non-consensual, so be warned. What bothers me, however, is that the sex feels driven by an authorial checklist. Melody engages in sex at times and in ways that violate any sense of character. Is sex erotic and intimate? Or is it a meaningless irrelevance? It can’t easily be both.
Katharina Katt’s Melody is a good vampire creation, but also something of a missed opportunity. Sexy and seductive though she is, there’s no real attempt to explore her humanity – and so she resides firmly in the ‘monster’ category.
I stopped reading it a year ago having got halfway through, and it has taken until now for me to start again. Once again it leaves me feeling frustrated and unsatisfied, but it also makes me think about vampiric nature and the arts of storytelling.
Reading this makes me want to write. Take that how you will.